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Pilots Unimpressed by Soaring Lebaran Balloons

Indonesian Pilots Issue Warnings on Danger Posed by Pilotless Balloons Launched by Moslem Holidaymakers

The Indonesian Pilots Association (IPI) are warning the Government and the Public of the danger to aviation safety posed by pilotless balloons endangering aircraft, crew, passengers, and ground-based assets across Indonesia, but primarily in Central Java.

Merdeka.com quotes the chairman of IPI, Captain Iwan ST, who presented a formal statement on Friday, June 7, 2019, warning of the dangers posed by the air balloon employed at cultural and religious festivals.

Captain Iwan listed five areas of chief concern from the IPI regarding the use of pilotless hot air balloons:

  1. The Regional Government must regulate hot air balloon in cooperation with the appropriate agencies in accordance with Decree Number 40 issued by the Minister of Transportation in 2018.
  2. The Public must strictly follow the law and regulations related to flight safety without in any was disregarding cultural considerations.
  3. The IPI called on the Indonesian Directorate of Civil Aviation to reduce current risks by issuing a formal Notice to Airman (NOTAM) establishing restricted flight areas and suggesting alternative air routes when hot air balloons are in use for cultural events.
  4. The IPI wants the Government to take firm action against people involved in illegal flight operations using pilotless hot air balloons, enforcing the law and imposing the appropriate penalties.
  5. The IPI called on all Indonesian pilots to diligently report to the appropriate agencies whenever they encounter a hazard to safety posed by pilotless balloon operations.

Earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Budi Karya Sumadi, called on the public who have the tradition of celebrating Idul Fitri by launching pilotless balloons to please act wisely and with caution. The Minister said caution is needed to prevent disruption to flight safety.

Kompas.com reports that Air Nav Indonesia, the agency who organizes air navigation in Indonesia, have received 28 reports from 26 pilots noting hazards to aviation posed by balloons on Wednesday, June 6, 2019.

The Deputy-general manager for planning and evacuation from the Makassar Air Traffic Control (MATSC), Davitson Aritonang, said recently an air balloon was seen by a passing airliner at 38,000 feet. Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi has recommended that the public henceforth stop sending balloons aloft to celebrate Lebaran Holidays.

Balloons have been encountered by flights operating in Java and Bali at altitudes as high as 38,000 feet in areas with a high level of commercial aircraft traffic. Davitson said the size of some of these balloons can be very large and are equipped with 3-kilogram gas potable LPG bottles.

The IPI suggest the consequences could be severe on an aircraft colliding with a 3-5 kg gas tank at high altitude.

The reports of balloon hazards were received over a two day period on the main days of the Eid al-Fitri Holiday.

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